INTERVIEW: Dylan Cartlidge | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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2018 was quite the year for Redcar’s Dylan Cartlidge. He not only made a name for himself in the North East music scene with what seemed like a non-stop gigging schedule, but he also endeared himself to the nation’s viewing public in the acclaimed TV documentary series The Mighty Redcar, and won over everyone who watched with his positivity and determination to create a better life for himself and his family through music.

His new EP, released this month, is a recording full of bass-heavy bangers with enough funk groove to shake everyone’s tail feathers, but speaking to Dylan there’s more to his creativity than just writing dance floor fillers: “For me, it’s all about the feel and the vibe and it’s about connecting with people. Every artist and every person has challenges and common threads to their lives; and music, to me, is complementary to that. There are a lot of things I’ve heard from the past that were written at a certain time in an artist’s life for a specific reason, and that will resonate with me now in a different way to how it was intended because it’s a different time. I guess I’m just trying to key in to that.”

With that in mind, what exactly does Dylan feel his music is saying about now? “That’s a good question! This EP in particular, I feel, is saying a lot of things. It’s talking about society, myself, the world around me but, specifically, it’s about the journey I’m on at the moment; the excitement, the lows, the highs. Everything from working in Wetherspoons, playing gigs in the local scene, all the way up to signing a deal and being told and realising that you’ve got the opportunity to write and record a full album.”

It sounds like that Dylan is in a very positive place at the moment and it’s something he acknowledges: “Making an album has been a dream of mine since I was thirteen years old. Back then I was in a situation that wasn’t the best and I decided that I wasn’t going to accept that situation and was going to do everything that I could to turn it into a positive, to try and show people who are in similar situations that it can be overcome and can be turned into a fuel to create something positive.”

Despite the positivity moving forward, Dylan is incredibly aware of how much, and how quickly, things can change. It’s a fear he addresses on the EP’s title track Monsters Under the Bed. On first listen, it’s a shout-along, groove-laden anthem, but on closer inspection the message runs a little bit deeper. He explains: “Monsters was written at a time in my life when things were the best they’ve been. All the uncertainty was coming to an end and I was just living the dream. I was on the way down to London on the train and then I suddenly got an unexpected message from someone from my birth family that just totally threw me and it was something I couldn’t have expected and it just pulled the carpet from under me. It just made me uber aware of the unknown and how you can be left vulnerable by having a false sense of security.”

If you have some kind of entitled view then you’re not going to get anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the North East or London, the problem is the same because while there are always opportunities, there are always other things limiting those opportunities

So, is he using it almost like a warning to himself not to get complacent? “One hundred per cent! I’m on the precipice of being able to do what I’ve dreamed of doing for so long. But, in life, people don’t always get what they deserve or what they dream of – it’s a very, very rare thing. I relate it to movies; horror movies in particular. Because in those movies, there’s always a point where things are going their best, and then suddenly it gets derailed. And I’m not saying I’m living my life expecting the worst to happen, but I’m doing everything I can to prepare myself for every eventuality. You just can’t take things for granted.”

Dylan’s success is something that interested me because although he was gigging hard and working even harder, his record label signing and his emergence into the relative limelight of 21st Century indie stardom seemed to come out of nowhere. I wondered if he could shed some light on to how it all happened. “I was playing gigs, doing everything I could do to get heard and then I applied to play Evo Emerging and Love Spoons – the song I sent over in my application – was heard by a lady called Ruth Kilpatrick who writes for a blog called Record of the Day who submitted it to that website. Suddenly it found its way around all the music bigwigs in London and found its way to my now manager who was looking after a couple of big artists. He got me in touch with Universal Publishing and some producers and it’s just gone from there.”

So, hard work and an element of being in the right place at the right time? “If you have some kind of entitled view then you’re not going to get anywhere. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the North East or London, the problem is the same because while there are always opportunities, there are always other things limiting those opportunities.”

Having achieved so much thus far, it would be rude not to ask what Dylan has planned next. “The plan is to release a full album in early 2020. Keep gigging and raising a profile, going out to SXSW and doing a headline tour.” Dylan suddenly stops and breaks into a huge smile: “I say this, and it’s like I’ve normalised it, but it’s insane! Even if nothing else were to happen this year at all after playing SXSW and doing a headline tour, this will be the very best year of my career. Maybe the best year of my life!”

Dylan Cartlidge plays Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough on Friday 22nd March, Think Tank? Underground in Newcastle on Friday 5th April and Independent, Sunderland on Saturday 6th April. His EP is released this month.

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